Temple Theatre to show Ukrainian film as part of relief fundraiser

May 13—Meridian's historic Temple Theatre is joining with hundreds of movie theaters across the nation to help provide humanitarian relief efforts in war-ravaged Ukraine.

The Temple Theatre will host a screening of the 2014 Ukrainian film "The Guide" at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 28, and Sunday, June 11, as part of a national "Stand With Ukraine Through Film" initiative. The box office will open at 1 p.m.

Tickets are $10 and are available for purchase in-person at the box office. The theater will donate 100 percent of the ticket revenue to benefit relief efforts in Ukraine, said Roger Smith, director and owner of the Temple Theatre.

"We are doing this to try and help all of the people of Ukraine. They have a horrible life now," Smith said.

On Feb. 24, 2022, Russia invaded neighboring Ukraine and has occupied parts of the country since, leading to the deaths of tens of thousands of people on both sides, particularly Ukrainian civilians. The invasion has led to the largest refugee crisis since World War II.

Contributions also will be accepted at the showing; donations can be made through QR codes placed in the lobby for moviegoers to scan, said project spokesperson Lisa Vucelich.

"We are delighted to partner with Temple Theatre, as we continue to offer support to Ukraine through philanthropic efforts and the education of Americans," Vucelich said. "This historic venue will be providing its community members with a unique opportunity to both learn about and discuss the war's impacts. We're grateful for their participation, and we're proud to be working with them in this endeavor."

"The Guide" is a dramatic film produced by acclaimed Ukrainian director Oles Saint and released in July 2014.

It tells the story of an American boy who is visiting Ukraine in the 1930s with his father, an engineer, and gets caught up in Soviet efforts to exterminate millions of Ukrainians through forced famine and other policies. The father is killed for obtaining secret documents about the repressions, leaving the young boy to attempt surviving in Ukraine, aided by a blind minstrel, and getting back to his home in the United States.

"The gist of this movie is that this is not the first time Russia has done this," Smith said.

While the film is based on historical events, it is not a documentary but a movie you would see on the BBC, he said.

The film was selected as the Ukrainian entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards, though it was not nominated. It did receive the jury prize for cinematography and best actor awards at the Odesa International Film Festival in 2014 and was nominated for the grand prix award at the Warsaw International Film Festival also that year.

Last year, a small community cinema in Salem, Massachusetts, kickstarted a global release of "The Guide" in support of Ukraine, raising $12,000 in one evening.

Since then, the film has been screened in nearly 700 cinemas across the United States and in Canada, Australia and the Netherlands, raising more than $150,000 to help the people of Ukraine, according to the standwithukrainethroughfilm.org website.

"We are so excited that Temple Theatre is playing 'The Guide,' a film which provides a powerful insight into the tragedy of Russian efforts to dominate — indeed, to exterminate — the people of Ukraine," said project organizer Marshall Strauss. "Cinemas around the U.S. and in other countries are providing badly needed support to Ukrainians — support which they deeply appreciate."

Contact Glenda Sanders at gsanders@themeridianstar.com.